From February 6th through 14th, the N-SSA was represented at the NRA’s Great American Outdoor Show (GAOS) for the first time. Held in Harrisburg, PA, the GAOS was 650,000 square feet of exhibition space with over 1,100 different organizations recognized! The NRA boosts that it’s the World’s Largest Outdoor Show and from the sight of it, it would be hard to argue against. Fitted with rooms dedicated to hunting, fishing, outdoor supplies, boats, firearms, archery and more, this 9-day show was packed with over 200,000 visitors walking through the doors.
Of course, the N-SSA showed up in their own unique way that was sure to stop every one of them! Charlie Smithgall graciously lent a “small gun” from his collection for the length of the GAOS: a reproduction 1862 brass barrel Confederate Mountain Rifle. It seemed that even if parents didn’t get to see the cannon through crowd in front of our booth, they had to wait as their children wiggled their way in to admire its beauty! Our set up also included a display of the 16 different rifles we compete with, a reproduction Union mortar and television playing a variety of videos. A new branded backdrop was also used to attract and inform visitors about the most important aspects of the N-SSA: History, Competition and Camaraderie.
In all, 33 members of the N-SSA worked long hours and drove from many states to represent the organization and recruit new members. Over 50 extremely interested visitors signed on to attend a skirmish or even join a unit. Follow up emails have already been sent and these people along with those that contact us through our website will be invited to a special recruitment event during the Chesapeake Skirmish in Winchester, VA on April 2nd. Information was given to over 800 guests of the show and lead bullets were given out as souvenirs to kids of young and old that were donated by our members.
This event is one in a series of major recruiting events the N-SSA will participate in on an annual basis. They include the GAOS, the NRA National Convention, Baltimore Antique Gun Show and the Gettysburg Reenactment. We will also be developing materials for each region so their members can locally host tables at gun shows or other events.
For more information about joining N-SSA or what other events you can see the N-SSA participate in, contact Melinda Shaw at Annieoak13@gmail.com.
Melinda has been a member of the N-SSA and Harlan's Light Cavalry since she was 15. Melinda is highly competitive and loves the high level of competition between her fellow skirmishers as well as her teammates which include her father, sister, brother and now husband.